Medical research

New opportunity for cancer drug development

After years of research on cell surface receptors called Frizzleds, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden provide the proof-of-principle that these receptors are druggable by small molecules. The results, which are ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Malaria under arrest: New drug target prevents deadly transmission

Australian researchers have found a new drug target for stopping the spread of malaria, after successfully blocking the world's deadliest malaria parasite—Plasmodium falciparum—from completing the 'transmission stage' ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Study pinpoints new drug targets to treat Nipah virus

Nipah virus, which is transmitted to humans from bats and pigs, has a high mortality rate and there are no licensed drugs against it. Now, researchers have used information on the structure of the Nipah virus to identified ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Master regulator of liver metabolism identified during infection

Researchers at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences identified a key mechanism for how antiviral immune responses reprogram liver metabolism. Their recent study, which was published ...

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Small molecule

In pharmacology and biochemistry, a small molecule is an organic compound that is not a polymer. Biopolymers such as nucleic acids, proteins, and polysaccharides (such as starch or cellulose) are not small molecules, although their constituent monomers—ribo- or deoxyribonucleotides, amino acids, and monosaccharides, respectively—are often considered to be. Very small oligomers are also usually considered small molecules, such as dinucleotides, peptides such as the antioxidant glutathione, and disaccharides such as sucrose.

While small molecules almost always have a lower molecular weight than biopolymers, a very small protein with a defined fold, such as the artificial ten-amino-acid protein chignolin[1], can indeed be smaller than some exceptionally large small molecules such as triglycerides.

Small molecules can have a variety of biological functions, serving as cell signalling molecules, as tools in molecular biology, as drugs in medicine, and in countless other roles. These compounds can be natural (such as secondary metabolites) or artificial (such as antiviral drugs); they may have a beneficial effect against a disease (such as FDA approved drugs) or may be detrimental (such as teratogens and carcinogens).

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